Speaker Pelosi, Leader Harry Reid, and House and Senate Democratic leaders held a news conference this afternoon in the Capitol to discuss aid to the domestic auto industry.
Dems demand business plan from Big Three
Democratic leaders in Congress sidetracked legislation to bail out the auto industry Thursday and demanded the Big Three develop a plan assuring the money would make them economically viable.
“Until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a hastily called news conference in the Capitol.
She and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Congress would return to work in early December to vote on legislation if the General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC produce an acceptable plan.
The Speaker’s opening remarks:
Thank you very much, Mr. Leader. I wish to associate myself with your remarks because I think that you have clearly laid out what the challenge is to our economy, to the auto industry and to Congress as we go forth.
It is all about accountability and about viability. Until we can see a plan where the auto industry is held accountable and a plan for viability on how they go into the future, until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money.
And that is really where we are with this. I want to join the Leader in saluting those who have worked so hard on this, and add to that our Michigan delegation in the House of Representatives.
The auto industry is very important to our country. It is essential, its survival is essential, to maintaining our industrial and manufacturing base. That industrial base is essential to our national security. So, for reasons of our national security, for reasons that relate to the health of our financial community, and for reasons that relate to the needs of the workers who will be affected by this, it is essential that we see some restructuring, some path to viability, from the auto industry.
The Leader addressed what that meant in a timetable. I know Leader Hoyer will adjust that as well so I won't go into that. But again, we reject those who are advocating bankruptcy for the industry. We reject that. But we do want to work together, and I don't think we saw very much in the hearings of the last few days that gave us the confidence that we can act upon it legislatively.
Hopefully, in another week or two, we can see a plan that can take us viably into the future with accountability to the American people before we spend another dollar of their tax dollars. Thank you, Mr. Leader.
As we said this afternoon, Democrats fully understand the importance of America's automotive industry to our entire economy, and to the 3 million workers who depend on it for employment. We are working with leaders from both parties, and with representatives of the automakers and their employees, in an effort to protect this vital industry from collapse. However, we will not commit billions of taxpayer dollars to this effort without first knowing how the automakers intend to use it to ensure their long-term viability. Our taxpayers and our economy would suffer if we found ourselves back at this point in the near future, with $25 billion gone and the automakers no closer to health. A plan of this size demands detailed accountability to the public.
That is why I, along with the Democratic leadership in Congress, am insisting that the automakers show the American people exactly how they would spend these loans. We need to know that America's car companies have a plan to remain competitive and viable in the 21st century. Congress has asked for that plan by December 2nd, and both the House and the Senate are prepared to return to consider legislation by December 8th. That time will help us build consensus in Congress and instill public confidence in the car companies' future. And by then, Congress will have more of the information it needs to determine whether loans to the auto industry are in the public interest. That is the diligence that any lender should exercise–especially when taxpayer money is at stake.
It's clear that the auto industry, America's industrial base and the source of millions of jobs directly and indirectly across the country, is in dire straits. But rather than blindly throwing money at the problem, we're asking for a plan for the future. American industry has always proven its mettle, survived difficulty and thrived through innovation and improvement. At a moment when the auto industry is asking the American taxpayer to dig deep, it must also dig deep as a business and demonstrate a path forward to long-term success. The auto industry must be held accountable and present a plan for future viability before the Congress can determine how best to provide assistance. Bankruptcy is not a good option; however, accountability and viability are essential to stabilizing the auto industry and saving millions of American jobs.